November 2010


My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
(Roc-A-Fella Records, Def Jam)

1/2 (out of five)

Or 9.4 out of 10.0

Kanye West’s fifth album (a copy editor and grammar nerd’s nightmare), My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, has the distinction of being the biggest, most hyped release of the Chicago MC’s career since his previous record. Ye’s been pulling out all the stops on this platter though: a dozen or so weeks ago, West started a serial mixtape, releasing a song every Friday through his Twitter feed (which I’ve been covering the hell out of), Yeezy “fabricated” a controversy over the album’s cover, and in a move that few could have anticipated, dude made a 35-minute art-house music video/film about a Phoenix-like character called “Runaway.” In other words, West has made almost every attempt to make sure he’s on the blogs, in the ear buds, and on the tongues of the music listeners nation-wide. If I weren’t so highly suspect of West’s ego, I’d say this was the finest bit of 21st Century marketing on behalf of a single cultural artifact. (more…)

Sometime toward the end of 2009 I caught the first latent strains of my new found comedy obsession. I’m planning on incorporating this love on the blog too. I’m not sure how that will manifest itself. I’ll most certainly get around to reviewing comedy albums or specials, but there aren’t airings or releases on the horizon that interest me. For the moment, a catch-all type of faux-periodic collection of random comedic happenings or thoughts on comedy seems to be the best bet. Every few weeks or so when I’ve compiled enough videos and opinions to comprise a few hundred words worth your time, I’ll unload another column. Let’s see how this goes… (more…)

I generally have a philosophical objection to reviewing live music, especially if it’s an act on the road, bouncing to another market the next night (I’m apt to break through this objection if I’m getting my name on the list or a free ticket for my words the next day). However, I consider this more of a public service. This won’t be a recounting of what you missed out on (a big reason I don’t do show reviews), no, this is a call to action: next time Black Milk (born Curtis Cross) is in your town, you should score a ticket. (more…)

(Featuring: Talib Kweli & Consequence)

GOOD Mondays have been a bit labored lately, if you haven’t noticed, and it just got harder with the leak of Kanye West’s fifth album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy; but I’mma soldier on. (He’s only going until Christmas, right?) (more…)

Small Craft on a Milk Sea (Warp Records)
1/2 (out of five)

A lot has been made of presentation and pretense with Brian Eno’s latest release, Small Craft on a Milk Sea. It is worth noting that this is Eno’s first release with electronic label du juir, Warp Records; and in honor of their first collaboration, the physical product is anything but a jewel-cased CD, however, once you’re clear of the pomp and circumstance, what is most important is that Brian Eno has produced more music.
Easily one of the most significant composers and performers of the 20th century (dude wrote the Microsoft start-up tune!), and one of the most consistently interesting ever, Eno has certainly made mistakes (plenty). However, he has rarely wandered into the same, safe territory as other aging legends who trot out revisions of prior greatness or partake in vain attempts to recapture youth. (more…)

It’s been four years since eccentric folky Ed Gray released his fabulous The Late Gray Ed Great–which was one of my favorite LP’s of the last decade. While it’s easy to get impatient and hope for another slab of equal brilliance, that sort of quality is difficult to replicate, and takes plenty of time if you want to get even close.
Gray is finally making new material available: there’s a quintet of new tunes on his Myspace page. The new jams are as lo-fi as ever, in fact the production for “Sallow” seems especially spotty and rough, but he’s expanding his bedroom aesthetic a bit. Gray’s always been able to pluck heart strings with lilting, eerily frayed acoustic ballads, and “Haunted Shoes,” from this latest batch, is yet another in this mold. It was the real standout for me on the first trip through the new cuts, a real gripping tune. But Gray also gets down with some electric guitar pulses, tapping into a Tom Waitsian level of creepiness with “Sampson.” It’s claustrophobic plod is a wonderful space for Gray’s gruff baritone to explore.
You’d be doing yourself a service to find 15 and a half minutes for his online “ep.”┬áHop on over to Gray’s Myspace page (while Myspace still exists), and check out this bounty of new material from one of Iowa City’s most unsung songwriting greats.

Featuring: Pusha T, CyHi da Prynce, Big Sean & J. Cole

This is what I’ve been waiting for! “Looking For Trouble,” the latest fix from Kanye West for us GOOD Friday fiends, is why I have kept refreshing Twitter and downloading. Some people got excited about last week’s track, “The Joy,” I think, because of the long drought of truly good material since the stunning “Christian Dior Denim Flow.” “The Joy” was legitimately a solid track, albeit corrupted by the out of control ego of producer Pete Rock and a lack of discipline on behalf of Rock and West. (more…)

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